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An Unfortunate Turn of Events

I feel for the people of Berkeley. For the last couple of months, the city has been the site of fights and riots between forces of the hard right and left. Berkeley has long held a reputation for being a city that attracts those adhering to radical persuasions, but the recent street clashes are unlike anything observed in my life. The local paper Berkeleyside summed up the April 15th confrontation:

Pro-Trump supporters and white supremacists clashed with members of far-left, self-described anti-fascism factions, including the By Any Means Necessary group and Berkeley AntiFa. The riot closed down parts of downtown, including the BART station, and forced the cancellation of the Saturday farmers market. People were pepper-sprayed and M-80 flash fireworks were thrown into the throng. There were fights and lots of yelling. Many people sought out confrontation and conflict throughout the day, and tensions ran high. At its height, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people swarming around Civic Center Park and on surrounding streets.

Police confiscated a stun gun, mace, knives, bear spray, an axe handle, pepper spray and a can filled with concrete, among other things.

Images and video from the day were widely shared throughout the media and were something to behold. I stayed as far away from the East Bay as possible April 15th, knowing well what has happened during previous attempts by right-wing figures to speak in the city. Friends and coworkers living in Berkeley are quite accustomed to protests in the infamously left-wing city, yet the level of mayhem created by the clashes that day shocked them as well. Woefully, these street fights exhibit an emergent trend on both the left and the right that we must address before these vicious fringe groups are allowed to escalate and cause increased destruction.

 

Tolerance for Vigilante Violence

Right wing forces may focus on undisciplined and unjustified violence by leftist vigilantes at recent college speaking events, but the history of violent antifascist groups goes back much farther than the Trump era. While Antifascists are quick to link their struggles to partisans in Spain and France during WW2, the modern incarnation of the antifascist movement came as a response to the rise in skinhead and neo-Nazi gangs in Europe and America. With the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, various fringe groups emerged to wreak havoc on minorities and immigrants in the Eastern Bloc. Fascist groups carried out attacks against their foes in broad daylight, habitually with scarce repercussions from law enforcement. There was a budding sense that these acts of violence must be confronted with force and could not be left to feckless authorities. A member of Poland’s Antifa recalls the reality of the situation in the early 1990s:

In the early 80s, Polish skinheads emerged in as part of the punk movement, but quickly moved away from the left-leaning punks as well as from the anti-communist Solidarity movement. Their leanings were pretty straightforward: they hated non-whites, liberals, punks and basically anyone who wasn’t following the principles of pre-war nationalists or German Nazis. In their hatred, they often ended up turning to violence – attacking people in the streets, at concerts, football games and other events. As a response, antifascists started organising in groups to fight these skinheads, and those clashes were usually bloody. Rupert used to patrol the streets of Warsaw in those days – looking for some skinheads to fight – and he was also behind the first antifascist rally in post-communist Poland, in 1993.

America was not spared this rise in right-wing violence.

In 1988, three members of a gang called White Aryan Resistance beat a 28-year-old Ethiopian student named Mulugata Serew to death in Portland, Oregon. In 1998, skinheads murdered Daniel Shearsty and Spit Newburn, a pair of anti-racists and best friends from Las Vegas—one black, one a white Marine—in the Nevada desert. The next year, a member of the racist cult World Church of the Creator went on a shooting spree in Indiana, gunning down nine Orthodox Jews, an African-American man, and a Korean graduate student before killing himself.

Racist gangs targeted some of my good friends in Santa Cruz back in the early 2000s. Walking home from an event downtown, a group made up entirely of exchange students was attacked by sent to the hospital. One of my friends was seriously injured in the attack.

Thus, a committed anti-fascist response to these conditions is understandable and even necessary. One would be hard-pressed to examine the development of Antifa as a strategy and not appreciate why this masked vigilantism was an understandable response. Yet, the allocations to “punching Nazis” have been extended too far socially and have a nefarious effect on Twitter-sized radicals.

I largely endeavored to stay out of the meditations following Richard Spencer taking one to the face (or the “punch heard around the world”). Simply noting that randomly punching a guy on the street might not be the best way to deal with the rise of the right was bound to produce gales of “apologist” and “sympathizer” from the expected corners of my political community. Spencer increasingly found ways to bring his smug persona into the mainstream and very few shed a tear to have that persona brought down a notch. There was no better figure worthy of the memes that followed than Spencer, and having a few laughs at his expense was a bit cathartic on the day Trump took office. Yet, while the Internet celebrated America’s premier white nationalist taking a sucker punch, an unfortunate trend developed among my left of center comrades. I watched friends gleefully celebrate in “punching Nazis” and bringing extrajudicial violence against other perceived enemies. At first, I chuckled watching these friends bluster of the need for violence, knowing well that they had not once been in anything close to a fistfight. But as the days went on, a broader rhetorical trend emerged: this is the kind of act the left needed to engage in, and those in opposition were enemies. Unlike with the challenges to violent right-wing street gangs, anyone wearing Trump paraphernalia was now a “fascist” deemed worthy of vigilante violence.

I wasn’t long before we saw this norm realized. When radicals set out to stop Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at Berkeley a few weeks later, they did more than obstruct and disrupt. Attendees were physically assaulted and threatened. Women were hit with brass polls and pepper sprayed for wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. Say what you will about the need to confront the likes of provocateurs like Milo and Coulter, but we have entered a very different realm of “anti-fascist resistance” when it becomes acceptable to attack anyone present at these events. These acts of violence, almost universally condemned, demonstrate the consequences of normalizing violence against anyone deemed a political enemy. Antifa violence developed as a political tactic to confront violent gangs bent on racist mayhem; these were defensive actions in response to a real threat of violence from the right. By extending that same existential response to figures and individuals not engaged in violence results in a collapse of normative justice. I knew it wouldn’t take long for this celebratory violence to eventually extend to other groups and political persuasions, as it was at McGill’s “Punch a Zionist” day. Once you embrace the right to physically attack individuals for holding and expressing an idea, we open the door to a perpetually escalating violent political culture. As a liberal, I can’t imagine a more horrific future.

Photo by Michael Bodley of the SF Chronicle during the riot at the Berkeley Milo event.

A Militant Right Wing

In the days prior to April 15th, I assumed a similar theater would play out in Berkeley. A handful of right-wingers would square off against black-clad radicals, a few windows would be smashed and dumpsters set ablaze, ending with right-wing activists being chased out of town. They would go to their blogs and proclaim the need for a firmer response from authorities to protect the right of “free speech” and we would all debate the event from our well-worn soapboxes. The “Battle of Berkeley” would look much like every previous Bay Area protest.

I was mistaken. I was surprised to see the fairly large contingent of right-wing activists gathered in Berkeley. Neo-Nazi and fascists were present, but there were an odd collection of Trump supporters and conservatives in the mix too. Based on reports from those present at the event, it was a diverse showing of right-wing activists, something I have not seen at events of this nature in my lifetime. After the bruising’s right wingers have received at events during the election year, the right came prepared with weapons and armored get-ups.

Disturbingly, the right appears to be building “self-defense” forces to unleash at similar events.

Kyle Chapman, known to his fans on the alt-right as “Based Stickman” for beating a leftist protester with a wooden stick at an early March pro-Trump protest in Berkeley, California, wants people to think he’s tough. In late April Chapman announced on Facebook  his creation of a new group of right-wing street fighters, called the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (or FOAK), dedicated to “defense and confrontation” in the streets. You could almost hear the chest-thumping right through the computer screen.

“This organization is for those that possess the Warrior Spirit,” Chapman wrote. “The weak or timid need not apply.”

I fear that we have reached a point in our current political climate where armed gangs of ideologues now enjoy a level of respectability in our culture, resulting in increased violence and chaos. This should scare all Americans who believe in the rule of law and honest, open debate. When both extremes of our politics is now happy to engage in theatric street fighting as a form of reasonable political action, we lose the soul of a liberal, open society. We don’t need to draw parallels to Germany in the 1930s to recognize that this lurch towards public acts of violence is a negative trend in our society.

Understandably, I am speaking to the choir. Antifa and “Alt-Knights” don’t care what some squishy liberal thinks of their actions; they spend a great deal of effort slagging off folks like myself as “bourgeois” and “cucks.” I am not addressing those extremists. Rather, I hope that liberals, socialists and conservatives alike can acknowledge the error in the violent aims of their extreme wings and refuse to take their propaganda at face value. Both vigilante factions paint themselves as victims while justifying increasingly violent actions against their opponents. Rather than validating “your side’s” actions the next time these bullies decide to make Berkeley their battlefield, don’t give them linguistic cover. We will never see the end to small bands of radicals dedicated to violence, but we don’t need their totalitarian impulses justified beyond the dank realms of the Internet these vigilantes congregate.


Staff Writer
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Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father just north of San Francisco who writes about politics, culture and education. He spent his formative years in radical left wing politics, but now prefers the company of contrarians of all political stripes (assuming they aren't teetotalers). He is a regular contributor at Harry's Place and Ordinary Times.

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148 thoughts on “An Unfortunate Turn of Events

  1. In the past when Antifa and Nazis have tussled in the streets, isn’t it the case that Antifa tended to win?

    It’s my recollection that Antifa has tended to win.

    It’s also my recollection that Antifa has enjoyed more anti-anti-support than the Nazis enjoyed.

    Above and beyond the whole “Huh… we’ve got Antifa and Nazis fighting in the streets… that seems like a bad indicator…” issue (which I agree with 100%), it seems to me that the Antifa seems to enjoy less anti-anti-support is an even worse indicator.

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    • In my experiences since the 90s, these kinds of street fights are unheard of in the Bay Area. We have had plenty of instances of people rioting/fighting the police, but in almost every case, it is one side fighting and the other side just absorbing it to diminish the negative impact.

      Now we seem to enter a realm where the right is more than happy to show up and get into massive brawls in the streets. Eventually, people are going to be killed.

      @jaybird: I am not sure what you mean by “anti-anti-support.” Maybe it is too early to wrap my head around it.

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      • In the 1950’s, there were the McCarthy hearings about Communism.

        Communism was still pretty much trying to wrestle with its Stalinist handlers at that point and was arguably very, very bad.
        There were a bunch of people who opposed Communism in the US government who were arguably also very very bad. Let’s call them “anti-Communists”.

        Just because you were anti-McCarthy, didn’t make you a Communist. But it did make you one of the anti-anti-Communists.

        When seeing the Antifa and the Nazis fight, very, very few people are pro-either side. Both sides, I’m sure we all agree, are bad.

        That said, it’s possible to pick a side that you hate more. The Antifa are Anti-Nazi. People who hate Antifa more can be shuffled into the anti-anti-Nazi camp. The Nazis, in the form of Based Stickman (and others), and be shuffled into the anti-Antifa camp. People who hate the Nazis more can be shuffled into anti-anti-Antifa.

        And, in the past, it seems to me that society has, quietly, hated the Nazis a lot more than they hated Antifa… and so the side fighting the Nazis quietly enjoyed anti-anti-support.

        The anti-antis, of course, are no more “pro” the original base group than those who opposed McCarthy’s McCarthyism were communist (as much as the McCarthyists liked to paint them as such).

        But what worries me is that we seem to be in a place where Antifa is hated more than the Nazis are.

        And I don’t think we’ve seen that in a looooong time.

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        • Thanks for the explanation.

          I think it’s indicative of the current alt-right’s better command of the media landscape. They have a big ally in Breitbart, for instance. They do pretty well on social media, but it’s hard to say how much of that is due to outsiders.

          For instance, my stream was full of postings and stories about the anti-Milo demonstrations in Berkeley, but not until much later did I see anything about how someone was shot by an alt-right person at the UW (my old school) just a week before the Berkeley scene.

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          • The right-wingers do better because they have the support of Billionaires who see them as useful pawns and/or allies. The farther left does not have such support because the most liberal publications are still closer to the center and/or filled with nerdy types not suited for street fighting and/or lack the backing of really rich people.

            The alt-right seemingly started with pranksters and miscreants. The new lefty mags started with grad students or grad students at heart.

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              • That’s a conspiracy theory without an ounce of evidence.

                Soros is liberal. He certainly supports a liberal humanitarianism and a welfare state of sorts but he is also a super-capitalist and not interested in a communitarian society like the far left protestors from the WTO or the current fights.

                But again the right-wing has a tendency to confuse liberal with radical communists or sees no difference between someone who says we need a welfare state to protect people from the vagaries of capitalism (but still likes the profit motive) and those who want to burn everything down and start again.

                My suspicion is that the far left and far right secretly respect each other for their extremism but dislike liberals for being bourgeois squishes willing to find a middle-ground. Incramentalism is no fun.

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              • Roland,
                Someone on the internets ain’t got no fucking imagination.
                Clinton’s team was funding the “after the election” protests.
                Then a sharp Forensics Finance guy got into the mix, took out the funding legs and … erm, took them over.

                Now a good deal of your current leftie protests are just Science Experiments done on the sly.

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                • I would like to see the Hillary Losers do a big “Eat a Bug” protest, where everyone marches on Washington, bug in hand, then eats it.
                  At least they could do something for the environment that way.

                  Maybe they could start a movement saying that we’ve just about mined out all of the intimate lubricants to be had on the planet, and now we’ve hit “Peak Lubricant” where the amount of lubricant available for future exploitation is going to reach the point to where some people just can’t screw any more.

                  I think this works well with an “Eat a Bug” protest.

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            • Saul,
              Oh, for the LOVE of GOD.
              The FAR RIGHT is busy supporting the SJW movement (even better yet, they’ve created self-sustaining malignancy so that they don’t have to keep spending money to have it be self-perpetuating).
              Who better to put a stake in the heart of liberals?

              The alt-right started with Richard Mellon Scaife, as far as I want to tell it. The Vast Rightwing Conspiracy, capiche?

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            • The right-wingers do better because they have the support of Billionaires

              You mean like the libertarians with the Koch bros.?
              That would explain that sweeping influx of libertarians into the legislatures of . . .
              Whoops! Wishful thinking going on there.

              To their credit, I have yet to hear the Koch bros. cited as the reason for Hillary’s defeat.

              I wonder how Ross Perot fits into all this.

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          • I find that laughable, due to the continued prominence of DKos, and the acknowledgements of Dem legislators of the site’s influence on the party.

            It would be more factually correct to state that either side has staken out a media niche; e.g., the Right & talk radio.

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            • Will,
              DKos is not MoveOn. Moveon is a bunch of self-entitled assholes trying to stick a finger in other people’s eyes. DKos is mostly an independent vehicle for getting better democrats (and more democrats) elected.

              *as with many things political, I may be biased here due to personal reasons.

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      • In my experiences since the 90s, these kinds of street fights are unheard of in the Bay Area. We have had plenty of instances of people rioting/fighting the police, but in almost every case, it is one side fighting and the other side just absorbing it to diminish the negative impact.

        Would it be correct that it’s always been the left rioting?

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        • Depends on how you define riot. The 3,959 black people lynched between 1877 and 1950 would probably think that their deaths count as right-wing rioting. Or you could wander over to LGM, read up on the Labor History posts and marvel how rarely the anti-striker forces ever got prosecuted no matter how much violence they brought.

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          • Yes, adding to point, the right surely have engaged in a whole slew of violence against opponents over the decades. Sometimes, the current right is either unaware of this or wants to wish it away and make all these recent confrontations about “free speech.” As I tried to note in my piece, it is important to remember where left-wing self-defence organizations came from and the historical context for their creation.

            Having said that, the public displays of political mob violence during my lifetime here in California have always been of the left-wing variety.

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              • Probably not.

                Group violence by non-police officers and non-sports fans, perhaps?

                In part that’s because when right wingers march in protest, the cops generally make sure the traffic is diverted away from the march route, while when left wingers protest, the cops wait for one guy to raise his voice at one cop, then respond with truncheons, and teargas, escalating to water cannons, flashbang grenades, rubber and occasionally metal bullets should the protesters’ response not be sufficiently deferential to all commands (including the ones that contradict the other commands).

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                • And the reason the left, by and large, hates anti-fa is because those morons basically turn up at protests to start crap.

                  Anyone showing up to a protest in ski-masks is not there for peaceful assembly, and left-wing protests are keenly aware of it. But here’s the rub — protests usually happen on public property, which means the ability of peaceful protesters to kick the crap-stirrers like Black Bloc out are nil.

                  (And as you note, the police LOVE Black Bloc. It gives them an excuse).

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    • Antifa win until the Nazis change the game, and the Nazis change it to the kind of game that A: you only get to play one time and B: Nazis are really, really good at playing.

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  2. “Eventually, people are going to be killed.”

    Damn straight, and it’s going to be, more likely, the Antifa, ’cause the right is going to show up with guns. So let’s re-look at the history:

    A bunch of left leaning folks start pushing the envelope, attack commentators and punching dudes they don’t like. The right says, “hell, tit for tat”. Shit escalates. At some point, someone does something to another person, and the other person pulls a gun and shoots the first person. Then legal shit happens. This is a natural progression because no side is going to pull back.

    So, how does this get fixed? I’m not sure it does. Not until people stop conflating having differing political views from what “the right people” have as being facists/nazis/communists/etc. You might start with the cops actually maintaining order. Am I mistaken in hearing news reports that the Berkeley Mayor supports antifa? Did he direct the police to do anything like stand down or not to arrest folks? If he did, he could not do that.

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      • I find that hard to believe. BAMN is well known in the Bay Area for being a cult-like group. They have always shown up at protests for the last few decades and tried to take them over as a revolutionary vanguard. I find that most local activists hate the group and see them as a nuisance. The people celebrating them as great anti-fascist organizers are always those from out of the area who don’t know the group’s history.

        They remind me of NATLFED, another communist cult group I was sadly part of, in that they continue on in some form even when they have no real influence in the community.

        So I doubt any politician who has cut their teeth in the Bay would be supportive of BAMN. Is it just that they were at some protest together or shared a stage at a march at one point? Because heck, every Bay Area politician would likely be in the same boat.

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        • I think the mayor’s connection to BAMN is via Facebook, or so I read. I didn’t dig deeper because that could mean just about anything – or nothing. Depends on how he runs his “friends” list and what he uses it for.

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    • A bunch of left leaning folks start pushing the envelope, attack commentators and punching dudes they don’t like. The right says, “hell, tit for tat”. Shit escalates. At some point, someone does something to another person, and the other person pulls a gun and shoots the first person. Then legal shit happens. This is a natural progression because no side is going to pull back.

      Eventually, a hockey game might break out.

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  3. Given that the US hasn’t seen group violence practiced by neo-Nazis, do you think it’s fair to accept the term “antifa” and compare the clashes in the US to those in Europe?

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    • That’s sort of what I was thinking.
      It’s sort of like the psychotherapist saying: “Now, tell me about your childhood– not the real one, but the one you would have had if you were European.”

      I suppose I’m more of a behavioralist.

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      • This article seems to make a whole lot of assumptions without realizing it, buried within terminology it accepts. I’ve been moving toward the point elsewhere that pre-1965 mob violence was philosophically different from post-1965, and that failing to make the distinction incorrectly puts a BSDI spin on the story. Likewise, European violence versus American. I think using the term “anti-fascist” to describe organized mobs in black clothes destroying property and attacking people pushes the limits of language, and/or displays shocking naivete. And depicting the clash in Berkeley as “an unfortunate turn of events” is a final touch of unwarranted neutrality.

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  4. Ronald:

    This latest tread started with lefty folks who thought it clever to use violence to keep folks like Milo and Coulter from even speaking. If they want violence the right should give it to them good and hard. Maybe a few deaths and these lefties will realize that there are consequences

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  5. RE: stopping this.

    I used to spend a lot of time in dive bars when I was single and one thing that happens in dive bars are fights. Over women, over men, over the jukebox, whatever. When there was a fight, the bartender would kick both parties out. It wasn’t the bars place to find out who started it, who did what. Both got bounced. If one did get to stick around, it always led to more problems.

    If we as a society want to stop this, both sides need to be stopped, both sides need to be held accountable. One can’t pick a side and feel its OK to support them in this, because you are excusing violence and yes, it will get someone killed.

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    • I would like to think this will stop it, but the bartender in this case is running under the ‘order is priority’ concept of freedom, and has no problem being biased about it. There is a reason the so called Antifa are looked at with a facet of disdain and hypocrisy.

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    • “When there was a fight, the bartender would kick both parties out.”

      And that’s why we have to pre-ban Milo and Spencer and Coulter before they even say anything.

      Perhaps we could form a Committee for Public Safety that determines whether it would be dangerous to permit someone to speak.

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    • While I agree this needs to be put down, & hard, I find it very interesting that the right wing seems to be playing the left for fools. I can’t recall a recent left wing rally where the right wing showed up & started bashing heads (but I could be wrong).

      This makes me think elements of the right are playing a longer game.

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      • That’s because that’s what’s happening. There’s a reason these incidents tend to happen at private, liberal arts universities or in their vicinity. Nothing is easier than trolling immature people awash in an intellectually shallow dogma, that being the whole intersectionality/woke thing.

        Conservative provocateurs bring a hustler magazine to a Puritan prayer vigil then pin the unhinged reaction on their political opponents and score a propaganda victory.

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  6. I am not one that believes in this new fascist groove thing; I think we are in a new Jacksonian era.

    In Daniel Howe’s “The Political Culture of the American Whig,” he juxtaposes two events on the evening of August 11, 1834 in Charlestown, Massachusetts. The Reverend Lyman Beecher is giving a speech on the dangers of Catholicism and urging support for public education in the West. At the same time, a mob is burning down the Ursuline convent and school. That the arson was well-planned was demonstrated by members of the fire department summoned to the scene, who did nothing to interfere with the perpetrators, nor impede the blossoming flames. At least they didn’t sing — in 1830 when Beecher’s church was burned down, the firemen, angered at his stance on temperance, stood around the fire and sang: “While Beecher’s church holds out to burn, the vilest sinner may return.”

    Howe uses the former arson to illustrate the independence of thought and deed between the “Jonathons” like Beecher and the “Sammies” like the mob. Lyman’s concerns were mostly political, concerned about the growing influence of uneducated immigrants easily influenced by the Jacksonian machine or given to emotional mob action. The mob in this case were working class stiffs who felt economically threatened by a surge in Irish immigration and undeterred (or perhaps even encouraged) by the Mother’s bold claim that 20,000 Irishmen would rise up to protect the convent.

    I think we’ve been here before, and don’t need foreign analogies. Americans are very conscious of their rights and are willing to fight for them, but in the furtherance of social and political aims Americans should agree never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

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    • I like this quite a bit. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a comparison to Jackson. Though oddly, it appears that Jackson was on the side of the immigrants.

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      • Certainly the Democrats were the party of immigration, but they also challenged their opponents for foreign influences or ideas. So, Jackson supporters libeled John Quincy Adams for procuring American girls for the Czar while serving as minister to Russia. On the whole JQA was characterized as effete and un-American.

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    • I’m a bit confused by what you mean by entering a New Jacksonian era. It seems largely forgiving of the alt-right I n strange ways.

      I think we’ve been here before, and don’t need foreign analogies. Americans are very conscious of their rights and are willing to fight for them, but in the furtherance of social and political aims Americans should agree never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

      I agree with this but there is a problem. I think there are still a lot of Americans who define Americans in the narrowest terms and do think that you really need to be a White Christian (preferably Protestant but this has changed) to be American. But you also have various minority groups who are fighting for their rights as Americans.

      We say that this should not lead to violence but this is a conflict that never ends and probably never will end so it seems to make sense that it will become heated and violent from time to time.

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      • I am not alt-right curious; haven’t hardly read anything by or about them. If someone has an idea you disagree with, I see no justification for violence. It’s even worse to justify that others engage in violence from the sidelines.

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        • @pd-shaw

          I don’t think pd-shaw was being alt-right curious but calling this a new Jacksonian age still deserves examination and questioning.

          What rights do either of you think Trump supporters think they are losing and willing to fight for? Are these rights tied to white supremacy? Do you think a lot of Trump supporters believe in that it is a right for white men to be naturally dominant?

          I accept that Trump is President despite the ravings of our precious Kimmi. I also accept that Trump’s Presidency is the result of our outdated and anti-democratic electoral college and the chances of getting rid of the electoral college is slim to none. I accept that a lot of people out there either think I am a second-class American because I am Jewish or not an American at all. And this is true for many minority groups.

          This doesn’t mean I have to be subservient and okay with it or not push back.

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        • Radical acceptance sounds like it requires too much self-reflection. I guess I’d probably been clearer in simply emphasized that the 1830s to 1850s (the Jacksonian era) was a period of constant, major rioting, believed to be the most intense in U.S. history. AFAIK none of it was revolutionary or anti-democratic, these demonstrations were adjuncts to popular sovereignty, in support or opposition to a group or ideas within the system, often engaged by a sense of moral panic inspired by emotional media accounts. Also alcohol.

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          • I don’t think you need to go back that far at all.

            There are many headlines in our news today that would have completely mystified Americans living 50 years ago.

            “Berkeley rocked by riots,” is not among them.

            Some of this seems like regression to the mean to me.

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      • I think there are still a lot of Americans who define Americans in the narrowest terms and do think that you really need to be a White Christian (preferably Protestant but this has changed) to be American.

        This is not quite right. The number of Americans who think that you have to be a white Christian to be American is probably vanishingly small. There just aren’t that many Richard Spencers running around to punch.

        There are, however, lots and lots of Steve Kings. There are lots of people who think that America rightly belongs to white Christians and that others should be tolerated as minorities, so long as they play by the rules and don’t do anything to upset the existing hierarchy that keeps white Christians on top and in charge.

        If the Richard Spencers of the world were the problem, that problem would be easily solved. You can find all the neo-Nazis, all the Klan members, all the members of explicitly white supremacist militias and attack them. You can relegate them to the fringes of society. Heck, we’ve mostly already done that. Dealing with the Steve Kings of the world is much more difficult, precisely because there are so damn many of them and they occupy positions of power. So, how do you deploy violence to deal with them?

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        • You can relegate them to the fringes of society. Heck, we’ve mostly already done that.

          Had mostly done that.

          The mechanisms that had served to push the likes of Spencer to the fringes of society were starting to fray for a variety of reasons, and then people started punching him, and that… actually seemed to have worked.

          People saw that and some of them decided, “Why not Milo?” and though they didn’t punch him and the causality wasn’t as clear… maybe that kind of worked too.

          From there it was a few steps to Charles Murray and Ann Coulter, and it more or less completely failed. Perhaps because Murray and Coulter were never at the fringes to begin with.

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          • I think jr is closer to the mark and your first paragraph is begging the question. I’m open to being corrected but I don’t think there’s any good evidence that neo-nazis or the KKK or similar groups are any more mainstream than they were 8 years ago. It’s easier to stage re-enactments of old battles than try to figure out what to do about the resentments and inequities that have survived the end of de jure racism.

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            • I’m open to being corrected but I don’t think there’s any good evidence that neo-nazis or the KKK or similar groups are any more mainstream than they were 8 years ago.

              The first piece of evidence to spring to my mind—though not the only one—is that any Jewish journalist who to write anything unflattering about Trump was inevitably swamped in openly anti-semitic abuse and, frequently, outright threats of murder.

              The second was a substantial uptick in mainstream media attention, a lot of it soft-focus, if not outright fawning, on “alt-right” figures, including Richard Spencer himself.

              EDIT to add: I’m specifically not saying that Spencer was no longer a fringe figure or that he was acceptable. I’m also specifically not saying that the perceptions driven by the Twitter mobbing is an accurate reflection of widespread popularity of neo-Nazi ideas.

              What I am saying is that the trend was towards more acceptance and popularity, and I believe that punching Spencer was largely a reaction to that trend.

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              • The mainstream media focus on Spencer had less to do with his actual significance than with a desire to make a literal Nazi the face of Trump supporters.

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              • I would agree that punching Spencer was probably driven by media attention to the alt-right. Absent that it isn’t clear to me anyone would have known who he was. I can’t prove it but my suspicion is that had he not been punched on camera he would remain unheard of among mainstream society (he probably still is outside of political junkies like us here on OT).

                On the bigger question of this stuff becoming somehow more acceptable… I’m just not convinced. Even if there’s been an increase in their numbers (something I’m not sure we can measure) we’re still talking about a tiny, tiny group of people with no power or electoral significance.

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                • Power or electoral significance is obviously super-debatable and depends, I expect, on where you put people on ‘s Spencer-King continuum, but no, it’s not all that meaningful, and where it is meaningful, I expect it’s because they give additional oomph to the Steve Kings of the world.

                  But even if it is a tiny number (and it very probably is), there’s a lot of reason to believe it’s a bigger tiny number than it was before.

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        • The number of Americans who think that you have to be a white Christian to be American is probably vanishingly small.

          There are lots of people who think that America rightly belongs to white Christians and that others should be tolerated as minorities, so long as they play by the rules and don’t do anything to upset the existing hierarchy that keeps white Christians on top and in charge.

          I get what you’re saying, but I think that a person who thinks that non-Whites or non-Christians can be removed from the class of ‘Americans’ at that person’s *whim*, because he or she vaguely disapprove of something they do…

          …does not *really* think non-Whites and non-Christians are Americans. They think of those people as sorta ‘tourists to America’.

          And this disapproval isn’t restricted to people who don’t ‘play by the rules’. I, for example, suspect they perceive ‘going to a store and having an incompetent employee waste their time’ differently if the employee is white vs. Hispanic or black or something.

          It’s not just ‘rule breaking’, it’s anything that impacts them in any negative manner is immediately unacceptable if the person is non-White or non-Christian. Or even stuff that doesn’t impact them, like ‘person speaks in noticeable but still understandable accent’ or ‘person wears baggy pants’.

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  7. I think you hit the nail on the head at the end. Both sides are not really affiliated with any major party in the United States thought the alt-right cheers Trump and Co. But both have a “Epartier Le Bourgeois” attitude about them. The alt-right has adopted the language of science-fiction fans by calling most people “normies”with the implication that they are superior and natural betters. As LeeEsq has pointed out a million times, the farther left decided a long time ago that they would opt-out of the American political process and the Democratic Party because working within the Democratic Party and political process means compromise and change. Staying out means keeping your probity and purity.

    So I think Aaron might be right here. We have to tamp down on both sides like a bartender/bouncer in a dive bar.

    I’m trying to die this into Comey. Josh Marshall (the man who coined Trump’s Razor) believes that the Comey sacking is clear and convincing evidence that Trump is deeply tied and implicated by Russia. Even if Marshall is wrong, it is evidence that Trump wants yes men wherever he goes and is likely to appoint someone who will use the office to protect Trump and punish his enemies and dissenters.

    For what it is worth, I think the far left and far right are always present sources that come up from time to time. Usually they fight authority (think the WTO protests of the late 1990s and early Aughts) but they also fight with each other. I have a suspicion that these fights normally did not occur in the public eye until recently. But something about the rise of Bannon and Breitbart and the alt-right seeing a White Nationalist savior in Trump is bringing this to the surface.

    More and more evidence is showing that Trump’s victory was the product of racial, social and cultural anxiety and not economic anxiety. I know this is deeply unpopular here but I maintain by it.

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/9/15592634/trump-clinton-racism-economy-prri-survey

    The PRRI survey uncovered several signs of racial and cultural resentment among white working-class Americans:

    About 65 percent “believe American culture and way of life has deteriorated since the 1950s.”
    About 48 percent say that “things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country.”
    About 68 percent “believe the American way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence.” In comparison, 44 percent of white college-educated Americans reported a similar view.
    About 68 percent “believe the U.S. is in danger of losing its culture and identity.”
    About 62 percent “believe the growing number of newcomers from other countries threatens American culture,” while 30 percent “say these newcomers strengthen society.”
    About 60 percent “say because things have gotten so far off track, we need a strong leader who is willing to break the rules.”

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  8. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/white-working-class-trump-cultural-anxiety/525771/

    Controlling for other demographic variables, three factors stood out as strong independent predictors of how white working-class people would vote. The first was anxiety about cultural change. Sixty-eight percent of white working-class voters said the American way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence. And nearly half agreed with the statement, “things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country.” Together, these variables were strong indictors of support for Trump: 79 percent of white working-class voters who had these anxieties chose Trump, while only 43 percent of white working-class voters who did not share one or both of these fears cast their vote the same way.

    The second factor was immigration. Contrary to popular narratives, only a small portion—just 27 percent—of white working-class voters said they favor a policy of identifying and deporting immigrants who are in the country illegally. Among the people who did share this belief, Trump was wildly popular: 87 percent of them supported the president in the 2016 election.

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    • Where this analysis goes astray is in its failure to mention the voting habits of the left-handed and the uncircumcised; e.g.:

      68% of left-handed voters see demoninationalism as a threat to Christianity.
      63% of all uncircumcised voters favor a stronger national defense.

      It’s just as relevant.

      It’s just a means of trying to make sense of something that happened that one has no apparent control over, but is perceived as having an immense effect on one’s life circumstances.
      In the end, it’s just grasping in the dark.

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  9. Re Comey, Trump, and Russia:

    I don’t expect Trump to be impeached. The GOP might not have wanted him initially, they might have even breathed a sigh of relief if he lost and they got to just make life miserable for HRC but they have completely normalized themselves to Trump and are now using him to get what they want which is massive tax cuts for the wealth, a final gutting of the welfare state, and/or appointing youngish ideologues to the Judiciary who can stay there for decades.

    I don’t agree with the Christian Right but they are much more strategic voters than the Left generally. They know what matters to them and they will vote for the candidate who gives them it. What matters to the Christian/Social Right is the Judiciary and the power that it has over American policy and can have for decades. They decry activist judges but really love them. They might know that their time is passing but they also know if they appoint enough judges in their early to mid 40s, these judges can stay on the bench for 25-40 years and be a wall of no against liberalism for decades. Maybe they can’t get rid of Griswold or Gay Marriage but they can prevent the adoption of worker-friendly and socially-liberal laws through the Judiciary.

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  10. Violence is never the answer is a pretty shabby Kantian solution.
    Particularly when you’re defending the Right to Act rather than the Right to Think.
    I feel sad for those who would defend the rights of someone to produce snuff pornography, if they can only manage to evade the police (or, better yet, have it ruled an “accidental death”).

    That said, mob violence is always, always, always a bad thing. Even when it is “local law enforcement” (and I have, if you haven’t, been to places where they round up a posse rather than calling the State Police).

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    • That said, mob violence is always, always, always a bad thing.

      I disagree.
      I believe it is necessary to overcome the embedded cells of subversion of the legitimate government.
      For civilian employees of government to act in excess of lawful authority is a most cherished value in our courts.
      It would be foolish to expect those values not to spread through greater society.

      Personally, I am for military action against the states commanded by the President.
      Any soldier who has ever walked a watch duty who has failed to falsify security records the property of the United States government has committed some manner of discernible wrong, while every civilian employee of government who makes false entries, or fails to make authentic entries, in documents and records the property of the state has committed the most commendable of acts.
      The judiciary might properly be defined as: “That branch of government which delights in pissing in the face of the United States military.”
      The end is already determined.
      The question is: How long will that go on?

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  11. The violence problem started during the campaign when Rham Emmanuel (mayor Chicago) and left-leaning West Coast mayors would order their police to refrain from protecting Trump supporters at rallies, thinking that a minimalist approach was best. That just encouraged the people who get out of hand to get further out of hand.

    Both myself and Glenn Reynolds are fond of posting 18 U.S. Code § 241 – Conspiracy against rights, encouraging local sheriffs to enforce the law.

    In Washington DC, after the inauguration of President Donald J Trump, hundreds of leftist rioters were horrified to find out they’d been charged with rioting and could go to jail for a long time. I imagine that those who were charged have since given up on more rioting.

    And of course someone needs to explain to the anti-fa morons that the Italian Fascists were strongly against racism, and would fight racists in the streets. That’s what Fascists do. As Mussolini told them, racism is a tool the oligarchy uses to divide and oppress the masses, whereas Fascists accept people regardless of race, color, religion, or national origin. Fascism is anti-racist.

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    • George,
      Hi, we have two examples of A. One does B, and the other does Not-B. You can’t just say that A is a proponent of B and NOT Not-B. This is a logical fallacy.

      When your arguments are illogical, we’ll ask you to go home and try again. Please do.

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    • In order to make facism work, it usually takes a right wing authoritarian supported by a authoritarian leftist social construct.

      The subject of racism or anti-racism has to be inherent in at least the social construct, and likely in the leader. I can’t see where facism in and of itself is predisposed to becoming either racist or anti racist.

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      • Fascism was anti-racist because Mussolini thought the capitalist oligarchy had used racism to divide the masses. It may help to recall that Mussolini was raised as a communist by communist parents, and had gotten deported from Switzerland for being a communist labor organizer and an agitator/propagandist. Then he became a writer and editor for the Italian Socialist Party, which stiffed him out of the leadership position. So in response, he sat on the right side of the Italian parliament to be as far away from his former colleagues as possible. Then he sent his goons to beat them up.

        Fascism is just another attempt at Marxist revisionism, and Mussolini was smart enough to realize that Marxism wouldn’t work in Italy because most people worked in family businesses. Overthrowing their oppressors would mean beating up mom and pop. So Mussolini recast Marx’s class struggle as a conflict between exploiter Anglo-American capitalist oppressor nations and struggling, working class nations like Italy. He combined elements of Marxist revisionism, socialism, futurism, and anarcho-syndicalism to create Fascism. Everybody on the left was okay with Fascism until the whole WW-II happened.

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          • There was no one in Spain who wasn’t what we would consider a leftist. The Republicans and anarchists were leftists. They were opposed by what we term Fascists (Traditionalist Spanish Phalanx of the Committees of the National Syndicalist Offensive). We could discuss whether syndicalism is left of communism or slightly right of communism, but it certainly isn’t capitalism, free markets, and democracy. Instead they supported workers cooperatives and banned banks from charging interest.

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              • Franco wasn’t a fascist as far as I can tell. His party was one of “Spanish Catholic authoritarianism.” But these days anyone the left doesn’t like is a fascist.

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                • Sweet, you managed to find a dig at liberals while being pedantic about Franco being a fascist. He was popular enough with OG Fascists to be supported by Germany and Italy. Is describing Franco as a fascist some sort of controversy?

                  FWIW i heard actual Spaniards in Spain describe Franco as a fascist.

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                  • Greg:
                    I’ve heard actual American lefties call Reagan a fascist. I guess that makes it so pursuant to your impecable logic. You really seem to be grasping today.

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                    • Yup people called Reagan a fascist; they were wrong. So how does that relate to arguing about whether Franco was a fascist. What about calling Franco a fascist bothers you? I mean really….is this pressing some button for you, that people have called Franco a fascist?

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                      • How does that relate to calling Franco a fascist? I guess in the sense that merely calling someone a fascist doesn’t actually make them one. I’m not convinced that Franco was a fascist and some random Spaniard calling him so doesn’t prove it anymore than some American lefty calling Regan a fascist.

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                    • Dude, if liberals here get tagged with what some idiot college kid in the 80s said betwen bong hits, ypu’re personally going to be answering for Alex Jones, Theo Beale, and borh Shoebats (pere and fils) until the cows come home.
                      And they all have a media presence, unlike the Reagan-fascist-callers, who were private citizens…

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              • Oh, they were very fascist. But Fascism is, again, a product of Marxist revisionism whose roots trace back to the late 1890’s when Marxist theorists wondered why the proletariat wasn’t rising up and throwing off their chains. They observed that the proletariat would lay down their lives for king and country, but not class, and decided that some of the key missing elements were national mythology, nationalist symbolism (flags etc), and dynamic leaders who would form a cult of personality.
                Mussolini was a pompous ass in a military uniform for a well thought out reason. All those Nazi flags and ceremonies were there for a reason, and that reason was a reflection on the failures of Marx’s theories about class warfare.

                This gets back to the heart of the reason for Mussolini’s split with the Italian Socialist Party. The Italian Socialists were international socialist, and at the outbreak of WW-I they took the stand that the proletariat was being slaughtered so the capitalist oligarchs and war profiteers could make money, and therefore the workers shouldn’t fight.

                Mussolini changed tacks and said that WW-I would teach the workers to fight, and if the fighting was bad enough the workers (soldiers) would develop the necessary consciousness to rise up and take over. He held that the bloodbath could be used as a precondition for the proletarian revolution, and he took pride in joining the Army and serving.

                After the war he realized that the veterans, his comrades in arms, were the very ones to lead that proletarian revolution. But he wouldn’t repeat the mistaken class warfare of the Bolsheviks, with its disastrous results. Class warfare wouldn’t work in Italy, and it wouldn’t put him in office. So he put together a better theory of third-way socialism, had his goons backing him, and was swept into power.

                Once in power, he made the trains run on time. He threatened businesses with strikes, and promised them no more strikes as long as they united with the workers and the Fascist party to bring unity, with all races, classes, and creeds of Italians coming together as one body, which he called “corporatism”, from the same root as “corpse”.

                He conducted agrarian land reforms, instituted a minimum wage and paid holidays, and generally mismanaged lots of things. But he was pragmatic, and not really wedded to any particular theories. In fact, he loved to contradict himself just to see if people were paying attention. Interestingly, to combat high unemployment, the Fascists strongly encouraged Italians to move to Brooklyn and New Jersey. That’s part of the reason we have so much pizza now.

                Mussolini also had a long string of Jewish girlfriends, some of whom exerted a profound influence on his thinking. He wasn’t a racist, but he was probably a high-functioning sociopath, based on his childhood criminal record, complete lack of empathy, lust for power, and flakiness.

                There was also no part of his political thinking that wasn’t Marxist, Marxist revisionist, anarcho-syndicalist, futurist, or hard-left socialist. He was right-wing because he sat on the right of the Italian parliament, to be far from the socialist devils who’d stiffed him out of their leadership position, and because after taking power made nice with the Pope and the king of Italy. Some probably say he was right wing because he was nationalist and militarist, but then so was just about every communist leader in history – once they take power.

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                  • George is playing a little loose with the history but there is a bit of truth in what he posted. Historians do trace fascisms history back to Marxists that decided that the national struggle is more important than the class struggle during the 19th century.

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                    • True enough. But modern fascist governments are the recent form of authoritarian, nationalist governments. Gov’s with one favored group ethnic group and using that, or religion, to rile up the masses are old fashioned. Fascism is the recent label for an old thing.

                      In any case George is playing the old conservative tic, it seems, of trying to tie everything evil under the sun back to the left somehow. Authoritarianism is not a facet of either the right or the left or the middle. It’s a form of gov spread across the R to L spectrum.

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                      • Just about the only modern Fascist government is Venezuela. Ironically, a lot of the Venezuelan businesses are owned by Italians.

                        After the Fascists kicked out Mussolini, Mussolini set up the Italian Socialist Republic. He later got strung up. After the war (in which we didn’t even bother trying to prosecute Fascists) the Fascists reformed as the Italian Social Movement and remained a pretty prominent political party into the 1960’s, pushing for a European Union.

                        Fascism wasn’t very authoritarian compared to most leftist regimes. During the first five years in power, about 300,000 Italians a year up and left with the government’s blessing. You certainly won’t see figures like that from East Germany, Cuba, or Yugoslavia.

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            • Capitalism, free markets and democracy is only right wing or conservative in places that have long traditions of such. Market liberalism isn’t inherently conservative, its conservative to those who already have it. You could say the fascists anti-thetical to market liberalism and be entirely correct, but then you’d be saying something nobody reasonable would take issue with.

              Don’t do that idiot thing Americans do and project your national politics onto other countries.

              You can tell that Franco, Hitler and Mussolini were men of the right by who supported them, which was basically supported right-wing movements within their countries looking for their own mass movement to counter the emerging socialist ones.

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              • This just in: Hitler led the National Socialist Workers Party. They were hard-core, bug-eyed socialists. Nationalism was their foreign policy. Socialism was their domestic policy.

                Mussolini was miffed that he got stiffed out of the leadership position of the Italian Socialist Party. He’d been editor of the party’s news paper for years.

                International pressure forced Franco to resort to a market economy in 1960 or so because Spain was about to go bankrupt, much like Venezuela is about to do, and probably for many of the same reasons. The “right-wing” Latin American model is still pretty much a top-down command economy based on 17th century Spanish mercantilism. It didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now. To the people, it doesn’t matter whether the government is left-wing or right-wing because all that does is change the names attached to the desks at all the bloated, dysfunctional ministries who exist to preserve the privileges of the ruling families.

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                • George,
                  Fascism’s domestic policy isn’t socialism. It’s a tight bond between corporations and government — very prounion, sure.

                  Fascism is NOT a movement of the right. It is a disease of the center.

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                  • Huh, disease of the center? I usually look at it in the opposite vantage point. It takes the worst of the right and the worst of the left and creates a specific damage machine.

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                    • That’s pulling a page from David Brin, who is one of the odder Republicans you’ll ever meet.

                      Yes, it takes left and right ideas. That makes it a centrist movement, if a toxic one.

                      Remember that if Hitler had been killed (heart attack, whatever) in 1938, people would still be singing his praises. He was quite effective at using a military buildup to get Germans back to work.

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                  • Italy didn’t have hardly any big corporations. That was what the Fascists were trying to fix so they could catch up with the rest of Europe, similar to Mao’s Great Leap Forward or Stalin’s push for industrialization.

                    Italy was a rather backwards agrarian country. It’s main export was poor Italians.

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                    • It looks like Italy was a Kingdom, with many competing factions already waist deep in histories of conflicts leading up to Mussolini.

                      He did fairly well early on where he used free market techniques mid to late nineteen twenties. Later he did the command control, even doubled down in some areas of agriculture that likely didn’t produce the results he was looking for.

                      The command control eventually turned into the quagmire.

                      Looks like he wasn’t fond of Slavs or Africans, so the race thing was present and institute.

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                  • No, but we know the Nazi’s were socialists because they talked about the wonders of socialism 24/7. If you told a Nazi he wasn’t a socialist, he would probably shoot you in the head.

                    They set wages and prices based on socialist principles (which caused quite a few economic crises and shortages). They allowed people to “use” personal property, but said that use was contingent on working for the advancement of Germany. Nobody had a right to keep the house, factory, or car they owned. Soldiers were eulogized as ardent socialists who gave their lives to advance socialism.

                    They produced endless propaganda about their economic miracle, with charts and graphs and statements like ““Freeing labor from the Jewish-capitalist yoke caused the increase!” A pamphlet promoting farming said “Without the peasantry, the people dies!”

                    Check out the German propaganda archive at Calvin college.

                    Goebbels: The Morals of the Rich

                    How to win Marxist workers over to National Socialism

                    Calvin’s archive has tons of material.

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                    • What was that bit about jews? I wonder if that is important, you know, fearing a world wide jewish conspiracy that controlled their economies.

                      So i guess the Krupp’s really hated the nazi’s.

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                      • They hated the Jews because Karl Marx said to hate Jewishness, and that true socialism wasn’t possible until the last traces of the Jewish attachment to money and property are eliminated. Marx went on and on about Jewish capital controlling the working class.

                        “What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.” – Karl Marx.

                        Marx also said the slavs have to be eliminated as an inferior race. He and Engels were steeped in 19th century racism, and what they wrote made strong case for the necessity and rightness of the Holocaust. Most of Europe’s intractable problems could be cured by simply exterminating the backwards, problematic people.

                        Krup was allowed to continue to operate the factory because Krup served the German people. Factory owners who didn’t were stripped of their factories, if not shot.

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                        • What?! Anti-Semitsm was common throughout Europe for hundreds of years before Marx. The Crusaders killed plenty of Jews on their way to the holy land. Pogroms were common in many places for ages. Nonsense George.

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                          • Hitler didn’t read Crusader books, he read Marx. He insisted that to be a National Socialist, you have to start by learning Marx. Marx and Engels were extremely racist, especially regarding black people, who they viewed as closer to animals than to humans. They also blamed Jews for sabotaging attempts at socialism, etc. Thus, one of the slogans of the Nazi party was “Juden frei Sozialismus,” Jew-free Socialism.

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                • Who were Franco’s sympathizers? It wasn’t socialists. It was religious, (particularly Catholic) right types.

                  That you can only conceive of right-left in terms of economic policy is exactly the myopic American projectionism I slagged you for earlier.

                  Franco (and Mussolini, and Hitler for that matter) support came from radicalised traditionalists, not socialists. That you’re focused so hard on economics shows my point that your inappropriately conflating market liberalism as an ideology with conservatism.

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                  • Above I linked Nazi advice to speakers on how to win over all the Marxist workers by pointing out that their leaders had failed them, and that National Socialism will succeed for them. This of course required National Socialist speakers to be experts in Marxist theory so they could stand up against Marxists in debates, and the key was that virtually all the National Socialist speakers were former Marxists.

                    Similarly, Mussolini was raised as a communist by communist parents. He then worked as a communist labor organizer and agitator propagandist, before becoming a writer for Italy’s socialist party, and then editor, and then vying for the socialist party’s leadership position. The only theory he knew was left, far left, and really far left. All the Fascist and National Socialist leaders despised democracy and despised capitalism – because they’d been steeped in Marxist thought.

                    When you read their speeches and propaganda, you can tell it’s left wing because they all sound like Marxists, full of words like proletariat and oligarchy, and exhorting their followers to unite as workers. The forces of labor rules all! etc, etc, ad nauseam. It sounds just like the Soviet propaganda, the Maoist propaganda, and North Korean propaganda.

                    In contrast, a right wing party would be saying things like “We should cut the capital gains tax to spur new business start ups.” The Nazis and Fascists didn’t sound remotely like Margaret Thatcher, they sounded like Castro and Chavez.

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              • Hell, the man himself, Adam Smith, considered free markets to be radical, liberating, and empowering of the people. And compared to what they’d be replacing, they were..

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        • Facism in the slice of history you are discussing, I can see it. Anti-racism as a strategy of a social construct I can see it.

          How that develops over time is what I held in question. Just because it happened that way in that slice of time, doesn’t mean it will develop in the same way again.

          At some point Mussolini had to reflect upon himself as being a pertinent leader and grant himself the individual authority to dictate over others. That empirically is a very right wing authoritarian act, even if it is in the name of an overarching vanguard movement.

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          • How is it a right wing act when Mussolini did it but a left wing act when Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jung Il, Kim Jung Un, Pol Pot, and Ho Chi Minh did exactly the same thing?

            Do you just throw a dart at a dartboard? First off, nationalism is just nationalism, and it can be left wing, like the Soviet Union in WW-II, North Korea, North Vietnam, Cuba. Nationalism can be left wing like the French Revolution. Similarly, militarism can be extremely left wing, as you see in all those places.

            Nationalism and militarism is one of the most useless measures for European politics because until after WW-II, virtually every European government throughout history was nationalist and militarist. It says virtually nothing about economic or social theories.

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            • That’s kind of the rub isn’t it? How are these double dipped ‘social’ left collectivists able to push out a leader? It is a contradiction to be able to do so. It typically takes a authoritarian right leader, because a authoritarian left leader would disappear into the leftist collectivism. Not only does the leader have to be authoritarian, the social construct has to hand the authority of the construct over to the leader to be able to lead. (What you usually find is that the vanguard(s) are typically right wing authoritarians. It is empirical, because if they never granted themselves the individual authority to rule, they never would have become rulers or been able to make a decision.)

              “First off, nationalism is just nationalism, and it can be left wing, like the Soviet Union in WW-II, North Korea, North Vietnam, Cuba. Nationalism can be left wing like the French Revolution. Similarly, militarism can be extremely left wing, as you see in all those places.”

              Nationalism, and militarism are social constructs, typically I parse these things as left, as that is where collectivism and collective constructs probably should be characterized.

              What you will never see is a right wing anti-authoritarian have a desire to lead or even want to associate with a leftist authoritarian social construct. What you will never see is a leftist anti-authoritarian social construct willing to hand over it’s authority to a right wing authoritarian. Those things don’t mix at all, and can lead to violence.

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              • I don’t get what you’re saying in the first part of your comment.

                One of the failures of traditional Marxism, noted since the 1890’s, was that it didn’t give credit to the importance of an almost mythic national leader, and thus the proletariat didn’t have a champion to blindly follow off a cliff.

                So in the early 1900’s the European Marxist theoreticians suggested a fix, saying the revolution would need to be led by strong and dynamic leaders who would almost be cult figures. You see that in North Korea, where the Kim family is worshiped as virtually gods. You saw that with Lenin and especially Stalin and Mao. You also saw it in Hitler and Mussolini.

                Here’s an interesting look at the origins of Fascism.

                The Mystery of Fascism.

                But touching on my original point for bringing it up, the anti-fa people are probably about as close as anyone can get to being an actual Fascist. Not only because they’d agree with most Fascist theory and economics, but because they think it’s their right to punch people in the face.

                As someone said long ago, if Fascism ever arrives on American shores, it will do so disguised as anti-Fascism.

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                • I pretty much place the leaders of facism where this compass shows ’em:

                  http://thefutureofeuropes.wikia.com/wiki/File:Political-compass-zones.jpg

                  The punching in the face thing probably comes from assuming they are ‘doing the right thing’ in accordance with their own concept of social objectivity.

                  There is an assumption that they are following a ‘true and just’ social objectivity that has been taught as a social construct. If they weren’t able to point at a preconceived notion of social objectivity, then antifas would have to recognise their violence as something else.

                  To muster that type of social authority I would probably attribute it to that area at or above socialism, statism and authoritarianism on the compass.

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                  • I’m not sure why they put Fascism on the right and National Socialism on the left, since not much distinguishes the two except perhaps concepts like “racial hygiene”. Both viewed the world as a contest between nations, although Germany viewed nations in terms of peoples. Fascism had what progressives would describe as far better economic policies, with massive deficit spending on infrastructure, welfare, and education. One of the Fascist goals was economic development to let Italy catch up to the more advanced European economies, so they focused on production instead of redistribution.

                    But over time, through nationalization, the Italian government came to own most of the Italian economy, including the big banks and major industries. In that it was much like Venezuela. It was also like Venezuela in punching people in the face. It was so much like Venezuela under Chavez that I’m surprised Chavez didn’t get sued by the Mussolini family for intellectual property theft.

                    And the left right graph isn’t nearly enough to cover all the differences in political outlooks. For example, the American right wing tries to preserve the fruits of our great social revolution, a revolution which pretty much started when we stepped off the boat without aristocratic supervision. Basically, by 1800 or so we’d had the social and economic revolution all the Marxists really sought. They just didn’t understand what a state without an aristocracy would look like. Meanwhile, a European right-wing would be suppressing free enterprise because many of them believed in a top-down, aristocratic, tightly-controlled, merchantilist command economy, and one that locks everyone in place regarding station, job, and class.

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                    • That particular compass is missing the labels that show individualism on the right, and collectivism to the left.

                      Facism is to the right, because the dictator has to grant the individual authority to lead, national socialism is on the left because it is a collective construct.(is how I read it anyhow)

                      I think the bigger problem with Marx was that he underestimated the ability of any given social construct to be taken over by the very forces he longed to battle.

                      The only tangible way to overcome social constructs is to disassemble them or not construct them. He failed to recognize the capitalism he was at odds with, is nothing more than another type of social construct.

                      Problem is, every social inclined person is going to defend a needs based theory around his ideology.

                      Even Ayns ideas failed to fully limit capitalism from becoming a social construct, as a firm or company.

                      So here we are in 2017 still fighting command economies emanating from the biggest conglomerations of social constructs that propaganda can sell.

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  12. We will never see the end to small bands of radicals dedicated to violence, but we don’t need their totalitarian impulses justified beyond the dank realms of the Internet these vigilantes congregate.

    We won’t see the *end* of them, but I think they will stop making the news. Or at least not as much.

    Because now the right can’t paint themselves as poor innocent victims anymore. They had a window where they could…and they completely screwed it up.

    Now the right-wing media will no longer promote the hell out of these conflicts.

    And the media won’t care without that. Right-wing runs around committing violence? Well, it’s a story, but a stand-alone thing that surely isn’t related to anything. But left-wing running around committing violence…holy crap that’s interesting! Let’s run that all over the media, how the left is doing that.

    That’s because dog bites man is not news. Man bites dog is news.

    Both sides bite each other…well, it’s still a little interesting, maybe?

    But the right-wing people who force the stories into the media are going stop pushing the story, so the interest mostly will dry up.

    And with media interest drying up, the actual antifa problems are going to reduced, also. Because the antifa were mostly idiots looking for media attention. (As opposed to the idiotic right-wing groups who are looking for *violence*.)

    I predict within a year, what will actually be happening is that the antifa will have 90% wandered off due to lack of media attention, and we’ll have a problem of random vigilante right-wing groups that keep showing up at Berkeley looking for violence….which won’t make the news at all.

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  13. Very dangerous for the gov to lose its monopoly on the use of force.

    What should (and hopefully will) happen is the gov steps in and reclaims its monopoly. What might happen instead is shortsighted actors in the gov might see advantage by allowing one side to do it’s thing. Arguably that’s what we’re already seeing with California’s tolerance of it’s violent left. But it’s far from too late to put the genie back into the bottle.

    It’s the whole “guns in school” problem, the moment one person/side is armed/violent they all can be, maybe even must be.

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    • In america the government isn’t a monopoly of force. The people who have been saying that are selling an illusion.

      The government only has about a million enforcement personnel. The population has about 30 million armed. One of the reasons the military started grey man training, is the best they can do is try to infiltrate movements, because they have no chance of stopping a big one.

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      • To be armed is not the same as “to use force”. As long as the gov is functional and not too repressive it’s armed population is a moot point.

        The problem comes when the government can not or will not enforce it’s laws on violence. If it looks the other way when one group is violent then whoever their victims are can’t rely on the police and has to protect themselves.

        From such things are death squads born.

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        • It’s not a moot point, if the 30 million can begin killing with impunity by overwhelming force at any given time, the force that the government hold is negligible. The only thing keeping the peace is the peaceful nature of the population.

          The monopoly of force the government holds is illusionary. There used to be no reason to try and create the illusion. Thats why it was understood what the function of an armed populace was for in a free state. Standing armies or armies posing as police force used to be looked upon with vial regards. The Hobbes stuff has slowly engrained the idea that the leviathan keeps the peace, another illusion projected by the ‘order is priority’ preachers.

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          • The monopoly of force the government holds is illusionary.

            If a member of my family is killed, I have an alternative other than extract justice myself. If I kill, the likelihood of my being arrested by the gov is high.

            In theory it may be an illusion, in practice, if I test it I’ll end up in jail.

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            • Plenty of people who have killed have not ended up going to jail, but we are spinning contexts, factions, and specifics.

              My smaller point is that things can change, leaving assumptions wanting.

              I think we understand what each other is saying, and I will not take up your time as you are frying bigger fish and doing a good job of it.

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          • The monopoly of force the government holds is illusionary.

            I think this is not quiet right. It is a shared belief (I think you yourself might call it a “social construct”) that is true because so many people share it. It’s like the value of a dollar or the idea that a signed piece of paper can transfer property rights—if enough people stop believing in it, it goes away, but as long as they do believe it, it has real power behind it. Power that can, and will, kill you dead if you flout it.

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            • Ah, people believe. This they do. If people believe one social construct will serve their interest better than another, then the power of social constructs are transitory. Tribe, king, church, state, take your pick. Any of these can rise and take the other. That people think the state is somehow more concrete, more robust, more proficient in applications of force. It’s not a flout, its the knowledge that any particular social construct is born with a expiration date.

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  14. The move to street fighting is inevitable in the current political climate. From 9/11 or even the Clinton victory in 1992 to the present, its been increasingly clear that there isn’t enough of a shared political consensus in the United States to have a healthy politics. The Republican Party have adopted the belief that the Democratic Party and its voters are extrinsic threats to the United States and what it means to be a real true American. This could be motivated by cynicism or sincere belief but the general attitude was to use Constitutional hardball tactics to stymie the Democratic Party at any opportunity. Republican voters and their ideological associates gleefully adopted this belief.

    This uncompromising stance taken by the Republican Party since 9/11 has slowly but inevitably led to the Democratic Party, its voters, and Further Left growing increasingly hyper-partisan. There is little to no agreement between the two major parties on even the most minor issue. In such a political climate, it should be clear that fringe political movements loosely associated with both parties feel the need to fight on the streets. They think they are waging war against evil.

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    • Republicans are not waging a war against evil. We are waging a war against abject stupidity and clueless hatred.

      That’s just too good. Definitely into the uncanny valley territory of Poe’s Law.

      Don’t know how self-aware you are, but really primo work.

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    • George,
      Yeah. You’re also the people who buy from the “Obama gunna take yer guns” jack booted thug commercials.

      Abject Stupidity is on both sides.

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